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6 Common Questions Physicians Ask About Telehealth Technology

By Dr. Sherri L. Dehaas

6 Common Questions Physicians Ask About Telehealth Technology

 

The demand for telehealth-based care is increasing rapidly, which is why many healthcare providers are adopting telehealth technology as a way to gain market share, address the growing need for immediate access to care, and reduce the overall costs for their organizations and the patients they serve. As with any major change, questions and fears are bound to arise. Below we answer some of the most common questions physicians ask about telehealth technology in order to allay those fears.

 

1. How Does Telehealth Technology Work?

 

Telehealth technology involves several different methods for providing healthcare remotely. Consultations take place via devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers, and can include videoconferencing between patients and doctors, remote monitoring of vital signs, electronic visits through email, and the transmitting of still images for interpretation by a physician. Patients can access on-demand consultations, or they can schedule visits for follow-up, specialist, and team-based care. Although building a telehealth program will require some effort, the technology is easy to use.

 

2. Is Telehealth Technology Safe?

 

Doctor-patient confidentiality is a top priority for every practice, so it’s crucial to have a secure system in place to record and store patient health information. As long as you’re using a HIPPA-compliant platform like My Virtual Doctor, patient records will be stored safely and securely.

 

3. Are There Liability Issues?

 

The incidence of malpractice claims or board action for telemedicine physicians is very low. However, every physician should ensure their malpractice liability insurance policy covers telemedicine-related mishaps before offering telemedicine services. If a physician or practice intends to provide services across state lines, then it’s critical to ensure coverage extends to multiple states.

 

4. Can I Offer Telemedicine Services Outside of My State?

 

Medical board regulations require physicians to be licensed in the state in which the patient is located. Therefore, you’ll need to obtain a license for each of the states in which you plan to offer telemedicine services.

 

5. How Do I Examine Patients?

 

Although in-person exams are vital for many medical situations, conditions such as UTIs, rashes, allergies, colds, and flu don’t necessitate a physical examination. In these circumstances, evaluating a patient through a video chat requires the same skills it would in a brick and mortar setting. Taking a good medical history, asking relevant questions, assessing the reported symptoms, and evaluating the patient’s overall appearance is often sufficient for an accurate diagnosis. The chances are that you’ve already diagnosed and treated many of these conditions over the phone in the past. Not only did the patient not require an exam, but you were also unlikely to have been paid for your time on the call. Telehealth technology allows you to bill for that time while offering a better quality interaction to the patient. It’s also important to note that telehealth is ideal for follow-up calls and post-op check-ins where a physical examination isn’t always necessary.

 

6. Can I Be Paid For Online Consultations?

 

In most cases, you can get paid. Reimbursement and telehealth coverage guidelines vary depending on the payer type.  Nearly every state Medicaid plan offers some coverage while Medicare telehealth reimbursements are on the upswing. In addition, 22 states have parity laws that require insurers to reimburse for telemedicine visits. Many private payers are also announcing coverage for self-funded employer plans, employer-sponsored plans, and individual plan participants.

 

 

As views on healthcare delivery change, telehealth technology is becoming more widely accepted by patients, physicians, employers, hospital systems, insurers, regulators, and legislators. Telehealth’s phenomenal growth over the last few years is proof enough that it’s here to stay. The real question is whether your practice is ready to embrace it.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a question that wasn’t answered here? Leave a comment below and we’d be happy to help. If you’re ready to take the plunge and integrate telehealth services into your practice, request a demo to find out how My Virtual Doctor can assist you with the transition. 

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